When it comes to food safety, a food thermometer is the surest way to determine if meat, poultry, and eggs are safe to consume. These raw ingredients have bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses and can only be destroyed when they’re exposed to certain temperatures.
For example, poultry can contain bacteria such as Campylobacter bacteria, Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria. These can cause serious food poisoning when consumed. To prevent this, cooks need to ensure poultry dishes have an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). By doing so, microorganisms are eliminated, and the meat is safe to eat. That’s why chicken always has to be cooked well done for safe consumption. However, beef that’s handled correctly can be safe to eat at medium rare at 145°F (63°C).
Eyeing meat based on its color or sear isn’t a highly accurate way to ensure meat is properly cooked. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, beef can turn brown even before it reaches the right internal temperature, so basing food safety on the color of meat isn’t always accurate.